September 3, 2006 I was driving from a crazy party in Phoenix, Arizona to meet with my business partner and future ex-girlfriend (Tanya) for the first time in Wheatfield, Indiana. I don’t recall which day it was, but I do remember driving along and thinking, “I should get a dog.” On the morning of September 5 Tanya took me out to her barn to show me the litter of puppies her dog had; that is when I met Buddy and informed her that I would fly back in a month or so to bring Buddy back to California. I told her that Buddy would be a definite “chick magnet”; I had no idea just how much of a people magnet he would become.
Since he was so young, I did not feel comfortable taking him from his mother and subjecting him to a 2,000 mile car ride; my plan was to fly back to Indiana, buy a small carrier box and bring him onboard as my carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, the only airline that was non-stop was Southwest, and they did not allow animals on flights. I ended up booking on American Airlines (AA), which had connecting flights with five hour layovers coming and going if I did my layover in Dallas. I didn’t really want to keep my new puppy in a box for an additional 5 hours, so I arranged my return through O’Hare in Chicago, which only had a 45 minute connecting flight layover; this should be doable.
Things started to unravel when I arrived back in Indiana to discover that the cute little fur ball pictured above was almost as big as his mother at less than three months old! He was not going to be able to fit under my seat, which changed lots of things because of weather rules when it comes to transporting animals in the belly of the beast; we wouldn’t even know if he would get on until we got to the airport.
It was a cold and wet day in Indianapolis when we arrived at the airport; driving to O’Hare would have been easier, but AA wasn’t allowing me to do that. Long story short, Buddy was okayed to fly from Indianapolis, to Chicago, to LAX, but in the baggage compartment.
Our flight to O’Hare arrived late, but it was a small puddle jumper, so we took off on time. There were issues getting clearance into O’Hare, but they got us at a gate as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there were issues with the tunnel from the plane to the terminal, which delayed my ability to get off the plane, but when I finally did I made the half-mile dash to my next gate and got there just in time to watch them close the door and wave me off. I would have to wait another five hours as I watched Buddy’s flight head towards Los Angeles. Everything I was trying to avoid was happening anyway, only Buddy would be on his own. I admit, I was not a very happy camper at this point.
By the time I boarded my plane for LAX I was pretty upset with myself, and I had visions dancing in my head of what a puppy stuck in a crate for 10+ hours would look like by the time we reunited. My anxiety was not relieved when I arrived at LAX and the first thing I heard coming over the PA system was, “Passenger Lloyd Brown, please report to room da-da-da; it’s about your dog.” There is no way this was going to be good.
I scurried over to the room only to discover a very long line. I ignored the line, cut to the front and leaned over the counter to announce I was there. It was then that I heard a ching-ching-ching behind me; I turned around to see Buddy with two TSA girls who had basically adopted him and found the leash I had thrown into his crate. Chick magnet indeed! They had essentially leash trained Buddy by the time I had landed.
Before Buddy was designated as a brewery dog, he was a road dog. By the time he was four years old he had not only flown across the country, but he had also traveled by car through more than 20 states and visited numerous national and state parks. Everywhere we went, Buddy made friends with almost every person we encountered, and he loved meeting new pets, no matter the species; anyone that knew Buddy knew I spoke the truth when I would say, “Buddy is everybody’s buddy.”
Buddy was the healthiest thing I ever did for myself. Every day and every night, rain or shine, we walked. I figured it out, and we walked at least 15,000 miles together.
I will never forget when he was a rambunctious puppy, how he instinctively knew something was wrong the night I came home after photographing an extremely graphic automobile accident; he mellowed out and sat by me on the couch just to comfort me. Or the first time he met my mother; she couldn’t even get out of the car, but he sat by her open door so she could rub his head; it was like he knew he should respect her.
By the end of his days, Buddy had peed on trees and rocks in 31 states while visiting breweries in 23 of them. Not only had he flown half-way across the country, he was one of the few dogs that could say he rode the train from LA to Chicago, with his own seat. The last few years, it was just the two of us visiting new places with new people; it is safe to say that many people approached me because of that “handsome boy with the one floppy ear.”
Buddy crossed the Rainbow Bridge on his 14th birthday. His friends Phil and Jethro, and Lance and Shelby came by to see him and give him some treats for his journey; he was at peace.
I am sorry if this story is a downer, it has been very hard to write, but I am hoping it is therapeutic for me. I would like to thank everyone that has come forward over the past week, with special thanks to those of you that helped make this transition easier on the two of us.
In lieu of flowers, Buddy has requested donations be made in his name to Noah’s Bark Dog Rescue; he liked the people he met there, and they liked him. Rest in Peace, my Buddy.
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